FALL 2016

Instructor:  Dr. David R. Burgess
Office:  Office hours are posted on my door.
Phone:  603-897-8264 (office)
Internet: (E-mail) (To Class Homepage)

Suggested Text: CHEMISTRY The Central Science, 12th ed. by Brown, LeMay, Bursten, Murphy and Woodward
ISBN-10: 0-321-69672-7/ISBN-13: 978-0-321-69672-4 (Student Edition)
Optional text: Study Guide to accompany CHEMISTRY The Central Science

A Note About the Text: It is suggested that you buy the 12th edition because pages in that edition will be referred to during class, but If you can't find a 12th edition or if it is still too expensive, you will be able to use any edition of this text after the 4th edition.

Course Context

On the first day of General Chemistry it is likely that a fellow student is reading this syllabus, her mind filled with apprehension. She has visions of strange men and women in white coats standing over bubbling glass contraptions which are emitting mysterious odors. These scientists speak in a strange language, and the threat of explosion hangs in the air. The student thinks of chemists and chemistry like they belong to another world and have no relation to everyday life. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Everything from the food you eat and the clothes you wear to the concrete you walk on and the cars you drive are studied by chemists and are part of chemistry. Acid rain, smog and other environmental concerns are studied by chemists. Sources of energy, such as coal and nuclear energy, are also within the domain of chemistry. As a matter of fact it would be hard to find an important area of concern today that isn't in some way connected with chemistry.

Those aspects of chemistry that encourage the stereotype described in the first paragraph are only a small part of chemistry and we all have attributes in common with those "spectacled men with lab coats". One area of chemistry, for example, is classification of substances. We all know water is different from sand, sugar, lead, iron or alcohol. We also know that lead and iron are metals and are able to designate this "subclass". You might even know that lead is "softer" than iron and be able to group metals according to some physical characteristics.

Everyone has also had experience with substances changing. Fireworks displays, which are beautiful and sometimes loud, are a good example. We are also familiar with cars rusting, fuel burning and food cooking. When crystals of sugar are placed in water they disappear, but we are fairly sure that the sugar is still there since the water tastes sweet. If sugar is spilled on a hot stove it readily turns into a black mass that isn't sweet. Is the black mass sugar?

If some lead is placed on a hot stove it turns liquid without much change in color. If the liquid lead is cooled it returns to its original appearance. Why didn't lead turn into a black mass? A study of the changes that occur in substances under various conditions is a second major area of chemistry that most students are somewhat familiar with.

Many people think of turpentine, which is produced by trees, as a "chemical". Maple sugar, rubber, and olive oil are also produced by trees. Are they "chemicals"? The answer is yes! Aluminum, aspirin, vitamin C and nylon are also chemicals and all are common everyday materials. Chemistry is concerned with the composition and change of all materials; it matters not whether they are rare or common, edible or poisonous, explosive or inert. Also, chemical reactions are nothing more than a change in composition, whether it involves the digestion of food, the drying of paint, or the explosion of gun powder.

Course Objectives

If you will combine the chemical knowledge you now possess with a desire to know more about what things are made of and how they change, chemistry will become fascinating. The objective of this course is to provide you with an opportunity to gain a basis of principles, concepts, and reasoning skills that will allow you to solve basic problems in chemistry. This course will also provide a sound beginning for future work in chemistry and the sciences. Understanding chemistry depends on a good working foundation. You are well advised to learn all you can from this course since this is where that foundation is obtained.

Chemistry is also an excellent opportunity to work on the college-wide competencies listed on the page titled Academic Assessment at Rivier. The nature of chemistry requires you to apply an understanding of course content to solve a variety of problems. In the process you will need to think critically and synthesize concepts. You will also need to make judgments about the appropriateness of the solutions you put forward.

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will be able to solve problems competently by identifying the essential parts of a problem and formulating a strategy for solving the problems concerning atoms, molecules, ions and stoichiometry.
  2. Students will be able to solve problems competently by identifying the essential parts of a problem and formulating a strategy for solving the problems concerning aqueous reactions and oxidation states.
  3. Students will be able to solve problems competently by identifying the essential parts of a problem and formulating a strategy for solving the problems concerning thermochemistry.
  4. Students will be able to solve problems competently by identifying the essential parts of a problem and formulating a strategy for solving the problems concerning electronic structure and chemical bonding.
  5. Students will be able to solve problems competently by identifying the essential parts of a problem and formulating a strategy for solving the problems concerning gases.

Class Information

This class will not be strictly lecture, but will include examples of problem solving strategies and may also involve student participation. The more you participate, the more meaningful the material will be. Feel free to ask questions during the "lecture" period or at any other time. It is a general rule in chemistry that if one person doesn't understand, there are at least three or four others who also don't understand.

The specific topics to be covered this semester are given in the accompanying course schedule and are explained in detail in your textbook. The schedule also specifies exam dates. There will be four exams given during the semester and an optional exam given on the last day of classes. The optional exam will cover ideal gases, which will get minimal coverage in class, but it can replace one of the semester exams when calculating your exam average. A comprehensive final exam will also be given.

Homework problems, as discussed below, are on the class website. Homework from the website will not be collected, but a quiz will be given at the beginning of the laboratory period covering the homework up to that point. One quiz will be dropped when calculating the quiz average. The quiz average will contribute to the lecture grade.

Final grades will be determined using the following scale:

Exam Average 65%
Quiz Average 15%
Comprehensive Final Exam 20%

Letter grades will be assigned as established by the college (see page titled Academic Assessment at Rivier). For example, if a student had an exam average of 86%, a quiz average of 81%, and a final exam score of 78%, she would have a final score of

(.65)(86) + (.15)(81) + (.2)(78) = 83.7 and receive a B in the course.

The class homepage also has other resources to help clarify the topics covered in class as well as a link to Academic Policies at Rivier and for this class. On our class policy page ( specific statements have been extracted, from the policies common to all undergraduate courses at Rivier College (, on Attendance, Habitual Non-Attendance, Academic Assessment, Academic Honesty, Classroom Behavior, Electronic Devices and Students With Disabilities. You are expected to be familiar with these policies and adhere to them.


Note: Exams will be on the scheduled dates. The specific material covered on an exam will generally be as indicated in this schedule, but may include material from other sections as determined in class.

7 Sept. – 21 Sept. Introduction, Atoms, Molecules, Ions, Stoichiometry (Ch. 1-3)
23 Sept. Exam I
26 Sept. – 12 Oct. Aqueous Reactions, Oxidation States (Ch. 4, Sections 20.1, 20.2)
14 Oct. Exam II
17 Oct. – 2 Nov. Thermochemistry (Ch. 5)
4 Nov. Exam III
7 Nov. – 30 Nov. Electronic Structure and Chemical Bonding (Ch. 6-9)
2 Dec. Exam IV
5 Dec. – 9 Dec. Gases (Ch. 10)
12 Dec. Exam V (Optional)
16 Dec. Final Comprehensive Exam (8 am)


The homework associated with each exam can be accessed through the General Chemistry Hompage.

These pages have all of the required homework for the material covered in the indicated exam. The textbook associated with this homework is CHEMISTRY The Central Science by Brown, LeMay, The last edition I required students to buy was the 12th edition (CHEMISTRY The Central Science, 12th ed. by Brown, LeMay, Bursten, Murphy and Woodward), but any edition of this text will do for this course.

Note: You are expected to go to the end of chapter problems in your textbook, find similar questions, and work out those problems as well. This is just the required list of problems for quiz purposes. You should also study the Exercises within the chapters. The exercises are worked out examples of the questions at the back of the chapter. The study guide also has worked out examples.

These are bare-bones questions. The textbook questions will have additional information that may be useful and that connects the problems to real life applications, many of them in biology.

Problems Previously Assigned from the Suggested Text: Chemistry The Central Science, 12th ed., by Brown, LeMay, Bursten, Murphy and Woodward

Ch. 1: 2, 15, 17, 19, 27, 29, 33, 43
Ch. 2: 4, 6, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 31, 35, 37, 39, 41, 43, 45, 47, 49, 51, 53, 55, 57, 59, 65, 67, 71, 73, 77
Ch. 3: 11, 13, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 33, 35, 41, 43, 45, 47, 49, 51, 53, 57, 59, 61, 63, 65, 67, 69, 73, 75, 77, 79, 81, 83
Ch. 4: 1, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 37, 39, 43, 47, 49, 51, 59, 61, 63, 65, 67, 69, 71, 73, 75, 77, 79, 81, 83, 85, 87, 89
        Ch. 20: 17, 21, 23 (Do these with Chapter 4.)
Ch. 5: 19, 21, 25, 27, 31, 33, 37, 39, 41, 43, 45, 47, 49, 51, 53, 55, 57, 59, 61, 63, 65, 67, 69, 71, 73, 75, 77, 79
Ch. 6: 51, 53, 55, 57, 65, 67, 69, 71, 73
Ch. 7: 7, 11, 19, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 41, 43, 45, 47, 49, 51, 53, 59
Ch. 8: 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 31, 33, 35, 37, 39, 41, 45, 47, 49, 51, 57, 59, 63, 69
Ch. 9: 15, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 35, 43, 45, 47, 49, 51, 55, 59, 61, 71, 77, 79, 83
Ch. 10: 35, 41, 43, 65, 71, 75


Instructor: Dr. David R. Burgess

Text: No text is required, but each student should buy and use a bound laboratory notebook.

The first semester of General Chemistry is a time for students to solidify the base of knowledge needed to understand the basic concepts of chemistry. Some students will be learning the material for the first time; others will be reviewing material from their high school experience. By the end of the semester each member of the class should be at a level that will allow the class as a whole to progress more rapidly. In this light, the first semester laboratory includes material that is more general in nature and is intended to build a background, not only in the "nuts and bolts" of chemistry, but also in the process and reality of chemical investigation.

Many schools require Freshman Chemistry students to take a 3-credit lecuture, a 1-credit lab, and a zero credit recitation. The 50-minute recitation is taught by a graduate student and it is an opportunity to enhance the lecture material, discuss homework, go over exams and to get questions answered. At Rivier we have incorporated some of this into the the lab period. This means that the first part of the lab period will often include quizzes and discussions of lecture material, especially material that is critical for understanding the laboratory exercises.

Course Objectives

  1. Expose the students to different forms of modeling.
  2. Provide experience with some basic chemistry laboratory equipment.
  3. Complement the lecture material by performing laboratory experiments investigating some of the concepts discussed in lecture.
  4. Provide experience with documenting data and writing laboratory reports.
  5. Develop the ability to work in groups to develop reasoning skills and to create laboratory investigation procedures.

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will model density with physical manipulatives, words, tables and graphs. Students will model solubility using a truth table. Stoichometry and the shape of molecules will be modeled with chemical structure models. Enthalpy, internal energy, and the concentration of sodium in tap water will be modeled mathematically.
  2. Students will use common chemical laboratory equipment such as thermometers, test tubes, beakers, pipettes, hot plates, instrumentation, etc. throughout the course.
  3. Students will perform experiments using density, solubility, enthalpy, internal energy, molecular shapes, quantum mechanics, etc. which are all covered in class.
  4. Students will complete lab reports for each of the laboratory experiments performed.
  5. Students will work in groups to create laboratory experiments for enthalpy, internal energy and the concentration of sodium in tap water.

Laboratory Report Format

Most laboratory reports should be organized as follows:

  1. Date, Name, Title
  2. Objective or Purpose of the Experiment
  3. Theory (What principles are needed in order to understand this lab?)
    1. Underlying Concepts
    2. Mathematical Models
  4. Materials Needed
  5. Procedure
  6. Tabulated Data and Result
  7. Error Analysis. (How confident are you in the result? What is the +/- value? Where does it come from?)
  8. Implications (Where could this be used?)

Other Notes

All data should be recorded in a bound laboratory notebook. It is also a good idea to write a preliminary report in your notebook, before doing the experiment, when possible. A separate report, based on the notebook material is required for each student. The reports are due the next week after completing the laboratory at the beginning of your laboratory section. Late reports will be penalized. Some reports may require a modified format. This will be discussed in class for each laboratory or exercise. It is expected that all written material will be grammatically correct. A word processor should be used (equations and the like can be hand written).

Each student is individually responsible to get, understand and complete the assignments on time, even when working in groups or when absent. You are encouraged to help each other understand the material, but don't hand in identical lab reports. Identical homework is a form of plagiarism and cheating and will be handled according to the academic honesty policy.

All students are required to know and abide by the safety rules for the laboratory as explained in class and summarized in the document "Safety In The Chemistry Laboratory."

The laboratory grade will be determined by averaging all laboratory assignments and exercises, each carrying equal weight (10 points each).

Late assignments: There will not be any penalty for up to three late lab assignments. If there are four or more late assignments at the end of the semester, all of the late assignments, including the first three, will be penalized one point each when calculating the final grade. This translates into a 10% reduction of the grade for each lab assignment. Only the late assignments will be penalized and this will be done when final grades are calculated, after the assignments have been graded (all assignments will be graded as if they came in on time).

Safety In The Chemistry Laboratory

Whenever anyone is in a chemical laboratory they must use caution and observe some basic rules. Most of these are common sense, but they must be strictly adhered to in order to keep the laboratory safe.

1. Always wear safety glasses. No one is allowed into the laboratory without eye protection. If there is a spill use the eyewash immediately, before the material runs behind the eye protection. If chemicals come in contact with the skin, immediately wash with copious amounts of water and inform the instructor. Always inform the instructor of any accident.

2. Food and drinks are not allowed in the laboratory. No smoking, drinking, eating, or chewing is permitted at any time in the lab.

3. Shoes must be worn in the laboratory at all times.

4. Secure loose clothing and hair while working in the lab.

5. Dispose of chemicals as instructed.

6. Never taste anything or directly smell the source of any vapor or gas. Use the hood as instructed.

7. Never point a test tube that is being heated at yourself or anyone else.

8. Clean up all broken glass immediately. Inform the instructor whenever anything is broken.

9. Always pour acids into water. Doing it the other way around can produce a lot of heat and cause spattering. Be especially careful with sulfuric acid which is more dense than water and may sink under the water, build up heat, and spatter. Always slowly pour the acid into the water while stirring constantly.

10. Never pour "extra" chemicals back into the original containers.

11. Never work alone in the laboratory.

The laboratory can be a safe place. It is expected that everyone will be serious and attentive while working in the laboratory.


I. Have you previously taken:

A. A high school level chemistry course?    yes   no

B. A high school level physics course?     yes   no

C. A ninth grade level algebra course?     yes   no

D. An advanced algebra or higher math course?     yes   no

II. Write the chemical formula for the following (if you can):

water     sodium chloride     carbon dioxide     ammonium sulfate


  III. Perform as many of the following mathematical operations as you can.

A. 102 = _____ (in decimal notation)

B. 0.0135 = 1.35 x 10 ---- (what power of ten?)

C. 43 = ____

D. 9½ = ____

E. sqrt(10-4) = ____         (sqrt means square root)

F. sqrt(400) = ____

G. (2 x 10-3)/(4 x 102) = ____

H. (1.3 x 102) x (1.3 x 10-2) = ____

I. If d = m/v, then v = ____ and m = ____

J. If x2 + x = 2, then x = ____

IV. Why are you taking this course? What are your expectations concerning this course?